By Brittany Anderson
KYLE — A non-school related criminal incident that occurred on Chapa Middle School property has raised some concerns with parents about the safety of their children during a lockdown that was initiated during the incident.
According to a statement from Chapa MS principal Lisa Walls, the Kyle Police Department responded to a shoplifting call at a local convenience store on Aug. 17 at 3:54 p.m. The suspect left the store prior to police arrival as the complainant was still on the phone with emergency communications.
The suspect fled on foot towards the Chapa MS parking lot at 3:58 p.m. and ran across school property, but did not enter any of the facilities. Officers arrived on scene at 4:02 p.m., approaching the suspect as he was attempting to jump a fence.
Although the school day ended about half an hour prior to the incident, Chapa MS still called for a lockout as some students were in the cafeteria waiting for their buses and the football team was on the field practicing. Walls explained that a lockout brings all students inside, and the perimeter of the school is secured.
The pursuit ended near the school, requiring officers to arrest the suspect on school property. Chapa MS was given the all-clear signal by law enforcement at 4:08 p.m.
Walls’ initial statement, provided 16 minutes after the incident, indicated that the lockout was called due to police activity near the campus and that there was no direct threat, but that they still wanted to ensure that the law enforcement activity “didn’t accidentally affect us.”
Some parents, however, quickly raised concerns that there were students still outside during the lockout as the suspect was on school property.
One parent told the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch that their child, along with several other students, were left unattended outside and were “banging on the doors” to be let in, with one video from a student outside showing the suspect being tackled by police near the school’s entrance.
Walls said that they are currently investigating this report, saying that if there were students outside, they “have some work to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again” and will incorporate that possibility into their planning and responses to future threats.
Parents were also initially concerned that the suspect had a gun, but Kyle PD later clarified that he was unarmed.
“Though we have no indication the suspect would have tried to enter our building, the good news is that our systems worked. He would have been prevented from getting inside,” Walls wrote. “Additionally, the immediate law enforcement response to a potential threat near our school was apparent. They were able to quickly detain and arrest the suspect.”
Walls said that this incident reminds everyone to be vigilant, as an emergency can happen at any time. Most importantly, she said, the school is able to learn from this situation so that improvements can be made.
“I want you to know that we take our security protocols and campus safety very seriously. We know that you entrust us with the care of your students and, as parents ourselves, we know what an awesome responsibility that entails,” Walls wrote. “During any potential or actual emergency, we first respond to the emergency, and then, as soon as possible, we will provide you with confirmed information. … Communication is essential, but our first priority will always be to ensure safety and security. Though you may sometimes receive the first indication that something is occurring from your child via a text message, know that information from me is always on the way as soon as it is safely possible. That is my continued promise to you.”